Five years after the devastating September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, conspiracy theories about Jews' involvement in the events of that day continue to be promulgated through the Internet, publications, books and videos. Soon after the attacks, a number of conspiracy theorists on the far right and far left, as well as in the Muslim and Arab world, blamed the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad or the Israeli government for the attacks. Today, those theories are even more widespread and some have taken their anti-Semitic allegations even farther by claiming that it was specifically Jewish members of the Bush Administration who directed the government in planning the attacks for the benefit of Israel.
When the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) first released its 2003 report Unraveling Anti-Semitic 9/11 Conspiracy Theories, we said then that these conspiracy theories were likely to form the basis of a new anti-Semitic canard that would linger for decades and be used to demonize Jews and Israel. Three years later, this prediction has proven to be true, as these theories gain more currency around the world, particularly in Muslim and Arab countries.
Blaming Jews for manipulating world events for their own benefit is not new -- it is at the very root of anti-Semitism. These theories are a continuation of age-old allegations that there is a secret and powerful group of Jews who regularly plot deceitful, sinister actions in order to gain power. These allegations were behind the fabricated anti-Semitic publication, The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. More than a century later, Jews are still fighting against this dangerous scapegoating, which has made them a constant target for hatred.
In 2003, when ADL released its report on anti-Semitic 9/11 conspiracy theories, far-right extremists and the Arab and Muslim press claimed that the Mossad trained or duped the 9/11 hijackers into carrying out the attacks or that an Israeli spying ring based in the U.S. knew what the attackers were up to and did nothing to stop them. These theories have continued to hold currency -- now pointing to the "war on terror" and the invasion of Iraq as proof of Jewish and Israeli involvement in the attacks.
Christopher Bollyn, a writer for the conspiracy-oriented newspaper American Free Press, a leading source on the far-right for disseminating anti-Semitic propaganda, has published numerous articles alleging that Jews and/or Israel had foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks. He also reports that certain Jews in the government not only tried to cover up Israeli involvement in the attacks but have ties to Israeli intelligence.
Writing in the January 2006 edition of American Free Press, Bollyn made allegations about U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff (formerly with the Department of Justice), claiming that Chertoff's family worked for the Mossad. Bollyn states, "Zionist agents in key positions in the U.S. government, like Michael Chertoff at the Dept. of Justice, the son of one of Israel's first Mossad agents, facilitated the 9-11 cover-up by releasing scores of arrested Israeli agents and assigning blame to Muslims in order to stare the War on Terror."
In a 2005 article in the publication, Bollyn wrote:
"From the very morning aircraft smashed into the World Trade Center (WTC) and the Pentagon, news reports have indicated Israeli intelligence being involved in the events of 9/11 and the planting of 'false flags' to blame Arab terrorists and mold public opinion to support the pre-planned 'war on terror.'"
In addition to numerous articles, the American Free Press publishes book reviews promoting Jewish or Israeli involvement in the 9/11 attacks. In recent issues, the paper lauded two such books: Enemies by Design and 9-11 Evil: Israel's Central Role in the September 11, 2001, Terrorist Attacks.
In more recent versions of anti-Semitic 9/11 conspiracy theories, many of the theorists go beyond Israel's involvement in the 9/11 attacks and claim that Jewish members of the Bush Administration played a central role in the attacks. These theorists allege that these Jews orchestrated a plan well before 9/11 with the goal of invading Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries and allowing the U.S. and Israel to seize control of resources in that area.
On rense.com, a conspiracy-oriented Web site that contains anti-Semitic material, Douglas Herman, the author of "Connecting the Dots=Zionists and 911," asks, "Was it only a coincidence that so many rich and powerful Jewish Americans played a pivotal role, or performed a supporting role in the alleged 'terrorist attack' on September 11, 2001 and the 'War on Terror' that followed?" Referring to former Bush Administration figures Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and others, Herman writes that their goal was: "Strengthen Israel; weaken the tyrannical Islamic states; hasten US hegemony of scarce resources for key global players and multinationals."
Another anti-Semitic conspiracy publication, Criminal Politics often ties Jews and "the Zionists" into 9/11 and the Iraq war. In the July 2006 issue, Lawrence Patterson, the publisher goes farther by alleging that the Iraq war was part of a plot to help Israel get rid of Arabs. He writes that 9/11 was "the next stage in the Zionist agenda."
"The war-free period between Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. ended abruptly on September 11, 01. The genocide of 3,000 Americans…set the stage for the invasion of Afghanistan. Then using the excuse of destruction of biological and chemical agents and/or regime change—160,000 troops were sent to Iraq. The 2nd Iraq war has been extremely successful for Israeli interests. As we have recently seen, a full blown CIVIL war has ensued between the different religious groups resulting in—of course—fewer Arabs to attack Jews in Israel."
During the week leading up to the five-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the notorious white supremacist and former Klansman David Duke has repeated anti-Semitic allegations on his Web site about an Israeli spying ring in the U.S. that was tracking the 9/11 hijackers' every move but failed to pass their knowledge on to the U.S. Like Christopher Bollyn of American Free Press, he also claims that Jewish members of the government are trying to prevent the public from learning about Israeli involvement in the attacks.
Duke asserts that U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff was behind the cover-up that prevented the exposure of Israel's involvement in the 9/11 attacks. He writes:
"One of those in the Justice Department cover up was Michael Chertoff who became head of the Terrorism Task Force in the Attorney General's office. If the Israeli spy ring was to be prosecuted, Chertoff was the man to do it. (Chertoff by the way is an extreme Jewish supremacist whose very appropriate name means "devil" in its original Jewish-Russian)."
On his Web site, Duke claims that "the Zionists," working with "Jewish news producers and editors," quashed the story of the alleged Israeli spying ring tracking the 9/11 terrorists. He also alleges that the same Jewish-controlled government and media instigated the subsequent invasion of Iraq. Duke writes, "Our press was unanimous in backing the neoJewishcon [sic] lies and hustled America off to this war for Israel."
Anti-Semites on the far left have similar points of view. Israel Shamir, a Russian-born Jew who converted to Orthodox Christianity, and is a longtime supporter of leftist causes, has devoted himself to exposing the racism and xenophobia that he says festers at the core of Judaism and Zionism. He believes that the U.S. government and Israel created 9/11 to carry out anti-Muslim policies.
On his Web site, Shamir writes:
"There is no case to presume existence of Islamic Terror at all. Until we come to 9/11, when President Bush proclaimed its existence and announced the World Wide Muslim Conspiracy of al Qaeeda. The perpetrators of the 9/11 are still unknown to us... On the other hand, there is an accumulating evidence of Israeli Connection. Israel utilized the 9/11 events to its full capacity: present massacre in the Palestinian cities is described as 'the war on terror'. The Muslim neighbours of Israel were terrorised into passivity by the American rage. Destruction of Afghanistan raised the threshold of the world sensitivity to horror, and made possible the present invasion of Palestinian cities."
Conspiracy theorists on the far right and far left are not the only ones to allege that Jews or Israel were behind the September 11 attacks. In February 2004, during a lecture at the University of California, Irvine sponsored by the Muslim Student Union, Amiri Abdul Malik Ali, the Imam of Masjid Al-Islam in Oakland, claimed that the Iraqi war was in the process of "Israelization" and that Zionists had "Congress, the media and the FBI in their back pocket." He also said that, "the Israelis knew about and were 'in-control' of 9-11" and that it "was staged to give an excuse to wage war against Muslims around the world."
In addition, at a July 2003 press conference in Morristown, New Jersey, Malik Zulu Shabazz, National Chairman of the New Black Panthers, said: "If 3,000 people perished in the World Trade Center attacks and the Jewish population is 10 percent, you show me records of 300 Jewish people dying in the World Trade Center…We're daring anyone to dispute its truth. They got their people out." Shabazz also blamed the September 11 attacks on Jews during a three-hour meeting in October 2001 with "Muslims for Truth and Justice" (an apparent ad hoc coalition of several American Muslim organizations) at the National Press Club, which was broadcast on C-SPAN.
Additionally, anti-Semitic and anti-Israel conspiracy theorists believe that the "Jewish-controlled media and government" have prevented the "real story" about Jewish/Israeli involvement in 9/11 from being broadcast. David Duke and others have often repeated this theme.
James Petras, a radical professor who contributes to the left-wing online journal Rebelion, also writes about Israeli involvement in the 9/11 attacks and "Zionist" influence on the government:
"The stories implicating Israel [in the 9/11 attacks] were completely dismissed by all the media and political leaders across the spectrum. Now U.S. federal investigators reveals [sic] that the Israeli's [sic] may have known about the attack before it occurred and not shared it. This raises the question of the relationships between the Arab terrorists and the Israeli secret police. Did the Israelis penetrate the group or pick up information about them? Federal investigators' confidential information could probably clarify these vital questions. But will the confidential information ever become public? Most likely not. For the very reason that it would expose Israeli influence in the U.S. via its secret agents and more importantly via its powerful overseas lobby and allies in government and finance. The lack of any public statement concerning Israel's possible knowledge of 9/11 is indicative of the vast, ubiquitous and aggressive nature of its powerful diaspora supporters."
The Arab media has made similar statements. In a 2004 report issued by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), numerous sources quoted in the Arab press reiterated conspiracy theories blaming both the U.S. government, as well Israel and/or Jews, for the 9/11 attacks.
A typical comment published in April 2004 by the Egyptian government daily Al-Gumhouriyya indicated that not only were Jews involved in the attack, they were also behind the government and media cover-up. The article stated:
"We also find a heavy blackout by America regarding the results of the investigations into the September 11 events. So far it has published no conclusions, and has not told us who the real perpetrator of these events is, as revealed by the investigations. Since America knows very well that the Jews and the Mossad are behind these events, it will never declare the results of the investigations..."
The Iranian media offered a similar view in the MEMRI report. In June 2004, Jaam-E-Jam, the Iranian government TV channel, aired a series about the 9/11 attacks. The program stated, "The claim that Israel was involved in the blasts of September 11 and used it as a basis of America's new strategy for fighting the world of Islam disappeared in the media coverage, but world public opinion still believes this possibility."